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EMCC Receives Record High Nominations for Diversity Award

Diversity Advisory Council Image

Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC) prides itself on diversity. And it shows. When the West Valley college put out its annual call for nominations for the 14th Annual Diversity Advisory
Council (DAC) Awards of Excellence, nine individuals stepped up to the plate.

“This is the most we have ever had at EMCC!” said Dr. Liz Cantu, Communication Faculty, EMCC Diversity Committee co-chair, and a member of EMCC’s Award Nomination and Selection Review Committee. “I think the number of nominees is a testimonial to the creative, innovative, and impactful work that our colleagues at EMCC do in the spirit of diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

The Maricopa Community Colleges DAC provides advocacy and promotes policy changes, training opportunities, and practices that support an inclusive and equitable environment for students, faculty, and staff. The DAC has been recognizing the efforts of Maricopa employees who integrate diversity, equity, inclusiveness, engagement, and social justice into our educational mission with the DAC Awards of Excellence since 2007. One award is presented to each college and the district office at the annual ceremony, which is hosted at a different site every year.

But EMCC felt it was important to recognize each and every one of its nominees, so this year, it is presenting each nominee with a certificate of recognition.

“We are inspired by the great work that our diversity and inclusion champion colleagues do here at EMCC,” said Dr. Lewis Brownlee, EMCC Diversity committee co-chair.

EMCC’s nominees were:

  • The Future Teachers Club
  • EMCC’s Business Institute, Kortney Song and Dr. Sylvia Ong
  • The Psychology Club/Psi Beta, The Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance Club, The American Sign Language Club, and more!
  • KARE Committee/group
  • Educational Empowerment Open House — Omar Romandia (Achieving a College Education, or ACE, Program) with support from ACE Success Coaches Ethan Kilduff, Luke Kilduff, Frida Saldivar, Joanna Belmares, Samantha Dorame, and Nancy Rojas Garcia
  • Dr. Olga Tsoudis and two of her Sociology 101 in-person classes
  • Cheryl Gipson-Thurman, Women in Law Enforcement Panel for Women’s History Month
  • Phi Theta Kappa and Beta Alpha Xi students
  • Required Orientation Advisement and Registration (ROAR)

Ultimately, the Educational Empowerment Open House won the DAC Award of Excellence for EMCC. The inaugural event was designed to bridge valuable resources to the community, families, and undocumented/DACAmented students around the Valley. Held Jan. 18 in the Estrella Conference Center, the Educational Empowerment Open House was the brainchild of Romandia, who was himself once undocumented.

“Due to my experience, I wanted to extend hope, resources, and support to students and parents of all walks of life, regardless of their background, in an effort to expand higher education access to more individuals,” he said. “It is in our best interest to properly educate the leaders of tomorrow.”

Read more about the Educational Empowerment Open House at

The DAC Awards of Excellence ceremony was originally planned for March 27 with EMCC hosting it (a first for the college) but due to COVID-19, the event was rescheduled to a virtual ceremony from 2 to 4 p.m. Oct. 2. The event will be live-streamed at

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